Monday, April 16, 2012

Broccolini Breakthrough: a Simple Technique for Preparing Broccolini

Some vegetables defy me. I fall in love at first sight and fawn all over them, imagining the beautiful meals we'll share. But, then somehow I manage to ruin it all. Oh, broccolini! What a capricious man you have been to me!

Alright, enough of that. To be fair and accurate, my difficulty has more often been with broccoli di rape (don't know the difference? Yeah, I had to look it up, too. Check it here.). Broccoli di rape, or rapini, is sharply pungent, like mustard greens. My problem with broccolini (and broccoli and rapini as well) is that I tend to overcook it. In some recipes, the broccolini is blanched first and then added to a saute where it is cooked a bit longer. This is where I have the overcooking problem, so I decided to just not cook it anymore after the blanching (see 101 Cookbooks for some inspiration). Instead, I saute the other ingredients separately and just toss the brocco afterward, off the heat. The flavors blend fine, and I actually like the stand-out flavor of the crisp broccolini amid the more seasoned sauteed ingredients. Here's my very simple suggestion for preparing broccolini:

Broccolini Tossed with Barely Sauteed Garlic and Shiitake Mushrooms

Start by boiling water in a pot, like you would for a pound of pasta. Salt the water.Prepare an ice bath for the blanched broccolini. Once the water boils, add:

1 lb. of broccolini, trimmed

Blanch for 1-2 minutes, NO LONGER. You don't want to lose the bright green color. Put in the cold water/ice bath until the saute is ready.

Meanwhile, heat:
 a tablespoon of olive oil (or butter or Earth Balance)

Then saute on medium heat:
2 cloves garlic, minced

Don't let the garlic turn brown at all -- keep the heat lowish medium. Add:
4 oz. shiitake tops, sliced

Add salt and pepper to taste (If you prefer Bragg's instead of salt, let the mushrooms cook out some of their liquid before adding the aminos to prevent them from getting soggy). Turn off the heat.

Toss in the broccolini. Add a dollop of butter/Earth Balance for richness and sauciness.

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